Biomass in the EU Green Deal: Towards consensus on sustainable use of biomass for EU bioenergy?

EU bioenergy and its use of biomass have several impacts on the biophysical system. This report provides a meta-review of the use of biomass within biophysical limits in the context of the EU Green Deal. 

This new report explores the uncertainty and divergence of opinion on the role of biomass for energy (and wider bioeconomy) in the context of supply and demand estimates. Finally, it provides policy recommendations to narrow down the role of biomass within the EU’s decarbonisation agenda.

With forests being so crucial to mitigating climate change, and so vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate, what role does forest biomass have in the EU Green Deal and, more specifically, does it make sense to take biomass out of forests and use it for energy generation?

At a fundamental level, the debate here is whether it is appropriate that the EU continues to rely on carbon-based fuel sources of any kind (living carbon in the form of biomass or fossil carbon in the form of coal, gas, and oil), rather than moving further and faster in favour of genuine renewables (solar, wind, hydro). To explore these issues, this report provides a state-of-the-art meta-review of the sustainable use of biomass (from forests, agriculture, and waste sources) within biophysical limits in the context of the EU Green Deal. It builds on and contributes to a series of recently published studies on biomass availability, sustainability, and bioenergy in Europe. It explores the uncertainty and divergence of opinion on the role of biomass for energy (and wider bioeconomy) in the context of supply and demand estimates. Finally, it provides policy recommendations to narrow down the role of biomass within the EU’s decarbonisation agenda.

Key elements of the report include:

  • A presentation of the policy context in which bioenergy operates in the EU and the functional and finite nature of biomass;
  • A review of the current and future biomass supply and demand of biomass for EU bioenergy;
  • A presentation of the different opinions and understandings of what constitutes sustainable biomass and where to go with bioenergy in the EU;
  • The risks and uncertainties associated with biomass supply and demand;
  • Biomass supply chain actions for reducing biomass demand to ensure biomass use within ecological boundaries.

To this end, the report concludes with a series of policy recommendations for the EU and Member States to narrow down the role of biomass within the EU’s decarbonisation agenda.

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